How to Find the Right Interior Design School near Calera Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Calera AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Calera AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Calera AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Calera AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Calera AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Calera AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Calera AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Calera AL college you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Calera AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Calera AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Calera AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Calera home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Calera AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Calera Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Calera Alabama.